Underclassmen set to lead Olympus wrestling
Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM
● By Jana Klopsch
Junior Riley Noble wrestles against Zak Kohler of Wasatch in the state championship match last season. Noble finished the season with a 42-10 record. (Macy Wilcox)
By Josh McFadden
Many high school coaches will say that for a team to be a successful, it needs solid senior leadership. The Olympus wrestling team has few seniors, yet the team could be a fixture in the Class 5A race.
The Titans enter the 2017–18 campaign on the heels of a 13th-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament a year ago. Olympus brings back just three seniors from last year’s squad. Yet, thanks to an underclassmen-laden group of talented wrestlers, the Titans figure to give teams fits this season.
“We’ve got a good team returning,” said third-year head coach Devin Ashcroft. “We’re ranked fifth or sixth in 5A right now, and we should be close to that. We should have a really solid team.”
Ashcroft has 12 juniors and 20 sophomores on his team, not to mention a handful of freshmen. Juniors Isaac Wilcox, Riley Noble and Jacob DeGraw are the squad’s top wrestlers.
Wilcox is a three-time All-American. He won state last season and placed as a freshman. He will likely wrestle at 160 pounds this season. Ashcroft calls Noble “an amazing wrestler.” He’ll be in either the 152-pound or 145-pound weight class this season. He finished second at state last season despite dealing with some injuries. Meanwhile, DeGraw qualified for state last season as a sophomore. The 138-pound competitor expects big things this year.
Ashcroft also highlighted sophomore Emerson Conlon as one to keep an eye on. The 195-pound athlete qualified for state as a freshman.
“He should finish close to the top of the state pool,” Ashcroft said.
The Titans have other experienced key pieces to the team returning this season. The more state qualifiers the Titans have, the more likely the team will climb up the standings.
“We need a more stable varsity lineup,” Ashcroft said. “We have guys who are ready — that will make a big point difference at state.”
As for region matches, Ashcroft expects fierce battles to come from Highland and West. The team opens the season Nov. 21 at Taylorsville and has its first dual meet Nov. 30 at Stansbury.
Ashcroft and his athletes are itching to hit the mat for some real action.
“The kids are all anxious to come in and work hard,” he said. “We’ve had a high tone at practice. I’m eager to see the growth that each wrestler has from freshman JV all the way up to (Wilcox). I’m for eager for the kids to see their own growth.”
Ashcroft said that because the wrestling season is more compact than other sports, leadership is critical. Wilcox and Noble are the team captains, and both have been integral in bringing the team together and getting everyone focused on the upcoming season.
“In wrestling, there’s a lot going on,” Ashcroft said. “We’re at it six days a week. To have captains who can go through the grind and help keep you motivated for 15 or 16 weeks is huge. It’s important to keep pushing.”
With its youth, don’t expect Olympus to slow down anytime soon. The Titans also have a solid club program.
“We’ve got good guys funneling into our program,” Ashcroft said. “It’ll keep us relevant for the foreseeable future.”